What Are Medical Errors? Everything You Should Know About

Medical Errors are preventable adverse effects of care. Whether as a result of technical or even human error, they’re evidently harmful to the patients. For example, it may be a result of an inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis or treatment. From a diagnosed disease, injury, syndrome, behavior, infection, or other ailments.

Medical mistakes are the stuff of those nightmares. Including, operating the wrong limb, treating the wrong patient, bad drug reactions, or even instruments left behind. However, in reality, they are all too often unfortunate.

Root Cause of Medical Errors

As a matter of fact, a reality Tv Show (Botched by Reality) showcases victimized patients as a result of medical errors, tragedies, and struggles.

Botched, an American-based Reality Television Series, first premiered on E! News on June 24, 2014. Surprisingly, the Botched (TV Series) follows doctors Terry Durbrow and Paul Nassif as they “remedy extreme plastic surgeries went vague.” You can catch up with the Botched Reality TV Show Stars Here! 

What Are Medical Errors?

From the example above, according to Botched, various plastic surgeons put high profile individual lives at stakes. Remarkably, Netflix Studios also streams exclusive collection episodes on Celebrity Plastic Surgeons of Beverly Hills.

On the other hand, the efforts of Leape and many others have forced an examination of adverse outcomes. A number of methodologies are currently being used to identify, quantify, and reduce the effects of medical errors in healthcare.

Medical Errors: Tips to Help Prevent Them

On one side, Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a retrospective technique used to identify contributing factors and effective mitigating actions. While, on the other side, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) focuses on what could go wrong and what can be done about it.

Expect your healthcare organization to institute a combination of these techniques when an adverse event is identified. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality through its Patient Safety Initiative (PSI) identified common root causes of medical errors. They grouped factors that contribute to medical errors into eight categories. Including these causes:

1. Communication

Communication problems were found to be the most common root cause of medical errors. Miscommunications can occur anytime information is transferred between patient and provider or between the multitude of entities that compose a modern healthcare system.

Nurses are often the hub of patient data as it flows between departments. Multiple modes of electronic communication/documentation may be incorporated into nursing practice including text, audio, and video. Ideally, all patient care communication should be archived.

Communications that are not text-based should follow a standard convention that includes: 1. (sender-message), 2. followed by a (receiver-message restatement), 3. followed by a sender-affirmation).

2. Inadequate Information 

Effective health information technology is timely, secure, transferable, and accessible by authorized care providers at the point of care. Point of Care Interface should incorporate e-charting, continuous archived patient monitoring, automatic provider alert, and decision guidance.

3. Human Error

Human problems relate to how standards of care, policies, or procedures are implemented. It is not enough to create and compile rules. Administrators must design systems that measurably produce compliance and reduce patient harm.

4. Patients Error

Patient-related issues can include improper patient identification, incomplete patient assessment, failure to obtain consent, and inadequate patient education. Enlisting greater patient participation is currently a popular safety theme.

While this may be useful at the margins, it is unethical to shift the burden of self-defense on to the patient. The responsibility for assessment, treatment, and outcome rests squarely upon the provider and healthcare fiduciaries.

5. Organization Errors

Organizational transfer of knowledge can include deficiencies in orientation or training, and lack of, or inconsistent, education and training for those providing care. Care providers, healthcare organizations, government, and regulatory agencies share the responsibility for competent practice.

Providers must seek and incorporate evidence-based practices that improve outcomes. Healthcare organizations must promote the dissemination and assimilation of evidence-based science. They must commit to patient safety through continuing education and site-specific competence.

Government and regulatory agencies must fund patient safety research. They must actively eliminate every source of avoidable harm from the healthcare environment. Practices, devices, therapies, and practitioners who may present a risk must be: assessed, identified, tracked, and excluded from patient care.

6. Work Flow Staffing

Staffing patterns and workflow can cause errors when physicians, nurses, and other health care workers are too busy because of inadequate staffing or inadequate supervision. Leape et al. demonstrated an association between practice environment and patient safety.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that a high patient-to-nurse ratio is associated with negative patient outcomes.

7. Technicality Fault

Technical failures include device/equipment failure and complications or failures of implants or grafts. Thorough RCA can reveal issues that lead to failure. FMEA is a particularly useful method for developing educational and defect mediation programs.

8. Limited Policies

Inadequate policies implementation and procedures indicate a lack of organizational commitment to patient safety. A culture of safety cannot be sustained without administrative leadership.

How Do Medical Errors Occur?

More than 250,000 people die per year due to medical errors. In addition, millions more get harmed by drug-related mistakes. Cases of daily medical mistakes have increased through the Kenyan Medical System.

Besides, a 2016 study from Johns Hopkins University suggests that medical errors may be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer. The researchers analyzed 8 years of data. Concluding that more than 250,000 people die each year due to preventable medical mistakes. A 2013 study estimated the number at more than 400,000 per year. Source, WebMD.

Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors

Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States and cost our country tens of billions of dollars a year. But, it is important to realize, medical care can go wrong in many ways.

  1. Drugs Overdose
  2. Drugs Underdose
  3. Adverse drug reactions
  4. Healthcare-associated infections
  5. Patient-controlled analgesia
  6. Medication errors
  7. Laboratory errors
  8. Surgical errors
  9. Falls

Get the nine main categories of medical errors listed above discussed in detail by the medical affiliate A Train Education. Let’s consider the following Medical Errors reported from around the world.

Medical Errors in Kenya

For instance, one patient needed surgery for a blood clot on the brain at Kenyatta National Hospital. The other counterpart patient had a non-invasive treatment for swelling. A horrifying mix-up of identification methods swayed in.

According to our credible sources, the surgeons on duty that time didn’t realize their mistake until “hours into the surgery”. What transpired next according to the BBC News Article was a bigwig for a coverup.

Here: Read More!

Medical Errors in California

In April 2014, the 54-year-old woman had surgery to remove a tumor from her uterus at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, CA.

Two weeks later, she had bruising and pain in her abdomen along with vaginal bleeding. A separate surgeon reportedly told her it was part of the healing process. But at her 6-week visit, she complained of more pain.

It was then that a bulb syringe was discovered in her abdomen, and she had surgery to remove it. The California Department of Public Health fined the hospital $28,500 for the medical mistake.

Medical errors can occur anywhere in the health care system. In hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, and patient’s homes.

How To Prevent Medical Errors Occurrence

The best way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your healthcare team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care.

Take Precautions:
  1. Make sure that the doctors know about every past medicine use history.
  2. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, such as vitamins and herbs.
  3. Bring all medicines and supplements to the doctor during visits.
  4. The medicine you present to them helps them in further changes and decisions making.
  5. Talk about them and find out if there are any problems.
  6. It can also help doctors keep records up to date and help in better quality care.
  7. Make sure the doctors know about allergies and adverse reactions encountered previously.
  8. This helps them avoid giving medicine that could harm them.
  9. When your doctor writes a prescription for you, make sure you can read it.
  10. If you cannot read your doctor’s handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.
Get Consultation:
  1. Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand. For example;
    • What is the medicine for?
    • How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
    • What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
    • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
    • What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  2. When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?
  3. If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask. Medicine labels can be hard to understand. For example, ask if “four times daily” means taking a dose every 6 hours around the clock. Or just during regular waking hours.
  4. Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your liquid medicine. For example, many people use household teaspoons, which often do not hold a true teaspoon of liquid. Special devices, like marked syringes, help people measure the right dose.
  5. Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause. Or get accurate information online from trusted platforms that offer a lot of details on Taltz, Emgality, Verzenio Therapy Instructions, or other dosage and pre-authorization information on many other drugs that your doctor prescribes to you. If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared if it does or if something unexpected happens.

Medical Mistakes and Errors can involve medicines, surgery, diagnosis, equipment, or lab reports. One out of seven Medicare patients in hospitals experiences a medical error.

Hospital Stays:
  • If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who will touch you whether they have washed their hands.
  • Handwashing can prevent the spread of infections in hospitals.
  • When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain: The treatment plan you will follow at home.
  • Including learning about your new medicines, making sure you know when to schedule follow-up appointments.
  • And then, find out when you can get back to your regular activities.
  • It is important to know whether or not you should keep taking the medicines.
  • Particularly, those you were taking before your hospital stay. This may help prevent an unexpected return trip to the hospital.
Surgical Procedures: 
  1. If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done.
  2. Having surgery at the wrong site (for example, operating on the left knee instead of the right) is rare. But even once is too often.
  3. The good news is that wrong-site surgery is 100 percent preventable.
  4. If you have a choice, choose a hospital where many patients have had the procedure or surgery you need.
  5. Research shows that patients tend to have better results when they are in hospitals treatment that has a great deal of experience with their condition.
General Care:
  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
  • Make sure that someone, such as your primary care doctor, coordinates your care.
  • This is especially important if you have any health problems or are in the hospital.
  • Make sure that all your doctors have your important health information.
  • Do not assume that everyone has all the information they need.
  • Ask a family member or friend to go to appointments with you.
  • Even if you do not need help now, you might need it later.
Knowledge Experience:
  • Know that “more” is not always better. You could be better off without it.
  • If you have a test, do not assume that no news is good news. Ask how and when you will get the results.
  • Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your doctor and nurse and by using other reliable sources.
  • For example, treatment options based on the latest scientific evidence are available from the effective health care website.
  • Ask your doctor if your treatment is based on the latest evidence.

Basically, medical errors can occur anywhere in the health care system. May it be in hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, and or even patients’ homes.

By the same token, medical mistakes and errors can involve medicines, surgery, diagnosis, equipment, or lab reports.


In reality, one out of seven Medicare patients in hospitals experiences a medical error. All-inclusive medical mistakes and errors can happen during even the most minor routine tasks. Not to mention, most common medical mistakes and errors result from problems created by today’s complex healthcare system.

But, errors also happen when doctors and patients have problems communicating. Consider proper scrutinization and arrangement within the fold before and after medical care. Technology is way ahead of the old practitioner’s way. Thoroughly training and guidance on computerization – systems – gadgets – it’s a must for the adoption of theater equipment.

Learn Also: One-Year In | What’s Next for America’s Healthcare Workers

In these guides, we’ve matched resources to your general health & fitness needs — especially by avoiding common medical errors. With this in mind, you can follow more leads through our lifestyle health wellness topics as well.

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